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N.Y. council approves price rates for city-run ambulance service

Kingston City Council unanimously approved the rates for the new service


A Kingston, N.Y. Fire Department ambulance.

City of Kingston/Facebook

By Brian Hubert
Daily Freeman

KINGSTON, N.Y. — The city’s Common Council voted unanimously at its June meeting to support Mayor Steve Noble’s proposal to set prices for individual ambulance services now provided by the city.

The rates will be $1,000 for non-emergency basic life support (BLS) transport and $1,300 for emergency BLS transport; $1,600 for non-emergency advance life support (ALS) transport and $1,900 for emergency ALS transport; $2,400 for specialty care transport and $2,100 for ALS2 base rate. The fee for treatment without transport is proposed at $250. The uninsured would not pay for treatment or transport.

Majority Leader Reynolds Scott Childress has said lawmakers will revisit the rates after three months and one year.

In his proposal last week, Noble pitched the rates and asked the council to set a financial aid policy “that will be used for those who need assistance paying their required copays and/or costs not covered by their insurance but are the responsibility of the patient.”

Noble referred to a financial aid policy for people who are uninjured and unable to afford the ambulance rates.

“The purpose of this policy is to recognize that the City of Kingston may provide ambulance services to patients who may not have the means to pay the ambulance transport fee due to circumstances beyond their control,” the policy said. “lt is not the intent of this policy to provide financial assistance to patients who have the ability to pay for services.”

In April, Noble said the city had picked a billing firm and estimated insurance payments could bring in just over $1 million in revenues each year to help offset the costs of running the service.

Noble had told members of the Common Council’s Finance and Audit Committee that the city could start billing insurance companies for ambulance service in June after the city selected the billing firm Quick Medical Claims after a Request for Proposals process.

He said the firm was selected out of five contenders because it had strong references from communities in and out of New York state and it gave the best presentation. Noble has said the city will also have to determine how to deal with insurance companies who don’t pay their bills.

Noble has said that the city has been collecting pre-hospital care reports, known as PCRs, from patients since the city’s fire department took over ambulance service from private provider Empress EMS on Jan 1 , and the city will look into back-billing. The city is checking Medicaid and Medicare rules to see how it can back-bill, he added.

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